Wallace William Brigden

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 12 June 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:1382

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  1. Caroline Richmond

Outstanding teacher and mentor in cardiology

The term cardiomyopathy was coined by Wallace Brigden in his St Cyres lecture at the Royal College of Physicians in 1956. It was one of his many contributions to cardiology, which was in its infancy when he was appointed to The London Hospital at the age of 33. He went on to become dean of the Institute of Cardiology. He also had a fine bedside manner: patients opened up to him and he therefore elicited comprehensive histories from them. He took a holistic view and followed up patients for years, tracking the progression of their disease. His military bearing belied a warm and caring personality with a great capacity for friendship. He was a modest man whose influence spread faster than his fame.

Wallace, a schoolteacher’s son, was educated at Latymer Upper School and King’s College, Cambridge, where he read natural sciences. Intending a career in biology, he went to Yale in 1937 on a scholarship that entailed studying an endangered seabird called the marbled murrelet, related to the great auk. A year later, with war looming in Europe, he returned to Britain to study medicine at …

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